I had an epiphany, at lunch time, about my current short story project. I have an ending, now, a nasty bull’s-eye to aim my narrative at.
What’s more, a lot of things I’d already sprinkled into the story have come into focus, especially the doctrine of true names. The protagonist has a solution to his problem, but he’s so desperate to avoid it that he’s unwilling to admit it to anyone, even himself.
I wonder if I knew the ending all along, too, and didn’t want to admit it to myself.
Listening to Metric’s “Breathing Underwater”, I suddenly realized that one of the lines — “I can see the end / But it hasn’t happened yet” — resonates pretty hard with my current work-in-progress. Like that’s a pretty pithy encapsulation of the entire theme of the story.
Also, if you haven’t encountered Metric before, you should really check them out. I haven’t heard a song from them I haven’t loved.
I’m working away on my library-full-of-self-erasing books, and I have a novel to finish writing, but I’ve had an idea and I want to pursue it soon. (Actually, it’s not a new idea; it’s a re-use of a concept from one of my nanowrimo projects.)
“The Slow-Motion Apocalypse” is a “day in the life” portrait of an aging wizard who happens to be all that’s standing in the way of a nuclear blast obliterating part of Manhattan.
I remember discovering (or perhaps re-discovering) The Paper Bag Princess in my twenties. As a young man who had heard a million fairy tales with the “and then they got married” happily-ever-after ending, it was a very different ending than I was expecting: the princess doesn’t marry the prince, not even after rescuing him from the dragon.
It was a different kind of ending, but still a happy ending. Maybe not so happy for the prince, but then he did nothing to earn a happy ending. It subverted the trope and made a new, better thing from it.
So go: subvert the expectations. Subvert all the expectations. Make it better.
Header image: Maman, across the street from Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, in Ottawa.
Yesterday I went to a session put on by Diaspora Dialogue on the topic of pitching your work to agents and publishers.
I had assumed that the format would be a presentation style, but when I arrived I discovered it was more a round table format, with the four agents and publishers answering questions from the room.
I didn’t have any specific questions ready, but that was okay, because the others in the room asked about several topics of interest to me.
Transcribed below are my notes from the event.
General notes on pitching
Your manuscript (MS) should be as polished as possible
It’s okay to change from your 1st draft [note: I assume it’s generally necessary to change from your 1st draft]
It’s better to have an agent when trying to sell a book-length piece
Benefits of having an agent
First and foremost: their contact lists
Agents will work closely with the author, providing another set of (expert) eyes on a MS
the Big 5 publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon and Schuster) generally require agented submissions
Agents will know what the editors at the various publishers are looking for; those editors trust the agents
Some publishers (usually small presses) will accept unagented submissions
I recently had a look at my submissions on The Submissions Grinder, and noticed that I’d sent “Me and the Bee” to two markets over a year ago, with no updates. I emailed the both of them, and one of them replied to me:
Our editorial team really enjoyed your story, and we were holding onto it for a while as we figured out our plans for our next issue. Unfortunately we’re now on hiatus as we have decided to restructure our journal. I’m sorry again for this disappointing news, but I think your story is very strong and has a good chance of being accepted elsewhere.
So… it’s not accepted, but it almost was, I guess. So close.